School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology

SOEST in the News: 2014

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Apr 17: “Volcanic Activity on Early Mercury”

Lionel Wilson

Emeritus Professor of Earth & Planetary Sciences,
Lancaster University

Tuesday 22 April • 7:30 pm
NASA Pacific Regional Planetary Data Center (PRPDC), POST 544, UH Mānoa

This FREE lecture is open to the public. Please download the flyer PDF.

Graphic of Pacific subsurface temperatures

Apr 14: IPRC and Meterology scientists warn of “big El Niño”

A huge mass of warm water churning across the tropical Pacific points to the development of a periodic phenomenon that typically brings destructive weather across far reaches of the planet, two SOEST scientists warn. Axel Timmermann, a professor of Oceanography with the International Pacific Research Center (IPRC), says, “I would say there is an 80 percent chance that a big El Niño will develop by the end of the year.” In agreement is Fei-Fei Jin, a professor of Meteorology. “Most people are still cautious, but we have a bunch of experts here on the campus who have been very watchful of this for over a month and we are thinking it could be a pretty serious one.” In Hawai‘i the results could mean a dry winter and wet summer, forecasters say.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (subscription required) and KHVH.com. Image courtesy of M. Widlansky, IPRC/SOEST (click on it to see the full version).

Satellite mage of Niishima

Apr 08: Niijima Island merges with older neighbor

NASA’s Earth Observatory reports that Niijima island, a volcano which broke through the ocean’s surface last November, has now merged with nearby Nishinoshima island, which formed 40 years ago. The new island is about a kilometer (six-tenths of a mile) across and 60 meters (almost 200 feet) above sea level at its highest point. At its size in December, the new island was expected to last several years, according to Japanese scientists. Because it has continued to grow, it could last much longer. “A lot of it depends on how fast it erodes,” Ken Rubin, Geology & Geophysics (G&G) professor and expert in deep submarine volcanism, told CNN after the island broke the surface last year. “Until it shuts off, it’s too soon to tell.”

Read more about it at CBS12. Image courtesy of the NASA Earth Observatory.

Image of HI_SEAS crew member

Apr 04: Second HI-SEAS Mars space analog study begins

A new space odyssey began on Friday 28 March 2014 as the six crew members of the new Hawai‘i Space Exploration and Analog Simulation (HI-SEAS) mission entered their remote habitat on the first night of a four-month-long journey. Using surveillance cameras, electronic surveys, crew member diaries, and other sources, researchers will be keeping an eye on the crew. Researchers are tracking group cohesion and a wide range of cognitive, social, and emotional factors. They are particularly interested in how technical, social, and task roles within the group evolve over time and how they affect performance. Kim Binsted, ICS associate professor and G&G grad student, is principal investigator for HI-SEAS.

Read more about it and watch the video at UH System News, Kaunānā, and Big Island Video News; read more about it at Kaunānā. Image courtesy of Y. Sierra-Sastre.

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Apr 02: “HI-SEAS (Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation): How can we ensure that crews survive, and thrive, on long-duration space exploration missions?”

Kim Binsted

Information and Computer Sciences (ICS)

Tue 08 Apr • 7:30 pm
NASA Pacific Regional Planetary Data Center (PRPDC), POST 544, UH Mānoa

This FREE lecture is open to the public.

Image of landslide damage

Apr 02: Officials aim to prevent landslides in Hawai‘i

As of Monday 31 March the death toll from the Stillagumish River, WA, landslide had grown to 24, with another 22 people missing. KHON2 wondered if something like that could happen in Hawaii, so turned to Geology & Geophysics (G&G) professor Steve Martel. He says while the topography and soil conditions need to be taken into consideration, all you need is one trigger, and lots of it, to cause a landslide. Martel referenced the Makaha Valley disaster of 1996 as an example, when boulders, water, and mud cascaded down the mountain. That landslide, and a couple of flooding events since, have attracted the attention of officials, and a study has been initiated in the effort to prevent another disaster in the region.

Read more about it and watch the video at KHON2 and KITV4. Image courtesy of KHON2.

Photo of former Vice President Al Gore

Stephen and Marylyn Pauley Seminars in Sustainability

Apr 02: Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore to present public lecture

Tuesday 15 April • 7 pm
Stan Sheriff Center, UH Mānoa

The UH Sea Grant College Program and US Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) have announced that former US Vice President Al Gore will present a free public lecture as the capstone of the day-long summit organized by UH and Senator Schatz. Read more about it in the UH Mānoa News.

Image of tsunami propagation forecast

Apr 01: Tsunami advisory issued, but no major threat seen

Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) officials in Honolulu issued a tsunami advisory for the islands, saying that while a major seismic wave is not expected, sea-level changes and strong currents may occur starting early Wednesday morning. The advisory comes after a magnitude-8.2 quake struck off the coast of Chile that sent tsunami of more than six feet to Chilean coastal cities. “Based on all available data a major tsunami is not expected to strike the state of Hawai‘i. However, sea level changes and strong currents may occur along all coasts that could be a hazard to swimmers and boaters as well as to persons near the shore at beaches and in harbors and marinas,” the advisory said. The threat may continue for several hours after the initial wave arrival at about 3:24 am, officials said.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Image courtesy of the National Tsunami Warning Center; click on it to see the full version.

Image of diver and munitions

Mar 31: Scientists to investigate munitions at sea

Scientists are revisiting previously-found munitions dumped at sea to determine whether the materials still pose a threat to human health and the environment. In 2007, UH was awarded money to conduct the Hawaii Undersea Military Munitions Assessment (HUMMA) in response to KHON2’s “Buried at Sea” series, which uncovered the dumping of thousands of military munitions decades ago just off the Waianae coast. “Specifically, we’re looking for mustard agent,” said HIGP researcher and CIMES director Margo Edwards. “The message that I want to get out is the fact that we are detecting mustard in the sediments about two meters around these munitions.”

Read more about and watch the video at KITV4, Hawaii News Now, and KHON2; read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (subscription required), Kaunānā, and KHON2. Image courtesy of KHON2.

Image of vog over Hawaiian Islands

Mar 28: Year-long allergy season due to Hawai‘i’s “vog”

Medical officials in Hawai‘i are seeing an influx of patients complaining of year-round allergies with no relief in sight. Many of the cases share a cause-and-effect relationship with volcanic smog — primarily a mixture of sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas and sulfate (SO4) aerosol — also known as “vog.” Geology & Geophysics (G&G) researchers Kevin Johnson and Thomas Shea, and Meteorology professor Steven Businger, director of the Vog Measurement and Prediction Project (VMAP), discuss the on-going volcanic eruption at Kīlauea on Hawai‘i Island, the composition of the haze, and the effects on the comfort and health of Hawai‘i’s residents and visitors.

Read more about it at AccuWeather.com. Image courtesy of S. Businger / SOEST.

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Mar 28: HIMB PhD student finalist for elite award for innovation

Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) graduate student John Burns has been selected as a finalist for the Rolex Awards for Enterprise. From a pool of more than 1,800 applicants from 129 countries around the world, Burns is one of 22 finalists. The award is targeted to innovators under 30 years of age. The Papaikou resident is one of only three finalists from the United States. Burns’ big idea is to develop and distribute novel waterproof electronic tablets to support community-based monitoring and conservation of coral reef ecosystems in Hawai‘i. The concept is rooted in years of outreach work with communities on the Big Island.

Read more about it in Big Island Now, Kaunānā, and the UH Mānoa News. Image courtesy of the National Park of University of Hawai‘i.

Image of Kodiak AK tsunami damage

Mar 27: 9.2 earthquake changed thinking about tsunamis

The great Alaska earthquake of 27 March 1964, with a magnitude of 9.2, was and remains the largest quake ever recorded in the United States and the second largest anywhere, beaten only by the 9.5 quake in Chile in 1960. This megaquake not only devastated a vast swath of south-central Alaska, killing 131 people and causing $2.3 billion in damage (in today’s dollars), it shook up scientific notions about how great quakes are generated, affirming the then-still-novel theory of plate tectonics. Ocean and Resource Engineering (ORE) professor Kwok Fai Cheung, Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) scientist Gerard Fryer, and Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) interim director Rhett Butler are interviewed.

Read more about it and watch the video in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (subscription required). Image courtesy of the US Geological Survey.

Image of HIGP director search flyer

Mar 25: Finalists named to lead Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP)

Three finalists have been identified for the position of Director of HIGP:

Rhett Butler (April 21-22) Interim Director, HIGP;
Jonathan Dehn (April 28-29) Research Professor, Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks
John LaBrecque (May 1-2) Lead, Earth Surface and Interior Focus Area, NASA Science Mission Directorate

They are scheduled to participate in two-day visits that cover department discussions; meetings with senior administrators, faculty, staff, students, and internal and external constituents; and a public presentation. Please visit UH System News for details.

Photo of Gavin Mura

Mar 19: Congratulations, Gavin!

Gavin Mura is a senior Global Environmental Science (GES) student doing his thesis work as a C-MORE Scholar. He just won Best Undergraduate Poster in the 2014Tester Symposium.

Image of flat top coral

Mar 18: Strong El Niño events leading to lower local sea levels

During very strong El Niño events, sea level drops abruptly in the tropical western Pacific and tides remain below normal for up to a year in the South Pacific, especially around Samoa. The Samoans call the wet stench of coral die-offs arising from the low sea levels taimasa (pronounced [kai’ ma’sa]). The international study to uncover the reasons for this phenomenon and its climate effects was spearheaded by International Pacific Research Center (IPRC) postdoctoral fellow Matthew Widlansky and was recently published in the Journal of Climate.

Read more about it in Red Orbit, Science Daily, and Meteo Giuliacci. Image courtesy of the National Park of American Samoa.

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Mar 15: “All Things Marine”

Thursday 13 March 2014 • 5-6 pm

Listen to the archived podcast of Carlie Wiener, COSEE-IE (Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence) Program Manager, and her monthly series “All Things Marine” on Hawaii’s Tomorrow. The COSEE Island Earth program, in conjunction with HIMB, is pleased to present with renowned oceanographer Dr Sylvia Earle, as well as the graduate students who recently led the Schmidt Ocean Institute R/V Falkor Student Research Cruise in conjunction with the University of Hawai‘i. Stay tuned for riveting discussion with: Dr. Sylvia Earle, National Geographic Explorer in Residence, Mission Blue; Adrienne Copeland, PhD Candidate, University of Hawai‘i; Jessica Chen, PhD Candidate, University of Hawai‘i; Ali Bayless, bioacoustician, Joint Institute of Marine Biology.

As always, visit the broadcast archive for podcasts of previous shows.

Image of R/V Falkor

Mar 12: Grad students lead research effort aboard the R/V Falkor

Scientists from SOEST have been allocated more than 100 days at sea, spread out over the next six months, aboard the R/V Falkor, the oceanographic research ship belonging to the Schmidt Ocean Institute. PhD candidate Adrienne Copeland was the chief scientist for the first cruise in mid-February, the first ever student-led cruise on the R/V Falkor, which focused on deep-diving toothed species — beaked, short-finned pilot and endangered sperm whales — found in Hawaiian waters. Numerous questions remain about what determines the feeding behaviors of these whales in the deep sea.

Read more about it and watch the video at Hawaii News Now; read more about it in the UH System News and at in the cruise blog “The Secret Lives of Whales.” Image courtesy of M. Schrope.

Image of CTD deployment

Mar 10: Station ALOHA: A laboratory for studying the sea

“Aloha” is the Hawaiian word for love and affection, commonly used alone or in phrases of fond greeting or farewell. Sixty miles north of O‘ahu, at a lonely spot in the Pacific Ocean, the word has a different meaning: “A Long-term Oligotrophic Habitat Assessment.” This year marks 25 years since Oceanography professors David Karl and Roger Lukas established Station ALOHA in a 6-mile-radius circle centered at 22° 45' N, 158° W. Since then, the remote outpost has become legendary: as part of the Hawaiian Ocean Time-series program (HOT) it has offered up an invaluable long-term record of the chemistry and biology found at a typical deep spot in the subtropical North Pacific.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (subscription required). Image courtesy of P. Lethaby.

Image of Ruth Gates and coral tests

Mar 07: HIMB researcher sees oceans growing too acidic

On Coconut Island, Ruth Gates is in her own race against time. The Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) researcher sees the oceans growing too acidic, too quickly for many marine species to handle the change. Without drastic steps to curb man-made carbon emissions, they say, many coral reefs that support fisheries, protect coast lines from storm surge, and attract tourists will dwindle and disappear in the coming decades. “We can confirm that reefs are declining. There‘s no disputing that,” Gates said. “But it's not all doom and gloom.” Gates has spent the past several years scrambling to find the hardiest, strongest coral that can endure the warmer and more acidic seas of the future.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (subscription required). Image courtesy of D. Oda / doda@staradvertiser.com.

Image of 'opihi

Mar 07: Scientists urge lawmakers to protect Hawai‘i’s ‘opihi

Experts want Hawai‘ lawmakers to update regulations meant to protect ‘opihi, a tasty mollusk whose numbers have crashed in parts of the state. Biologists with the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) told a House panel on Wednesday that stocks of the ocean snails off Oahu's shores are at dire lows. But with better management, they said, O‘ahu’s ‘opihi can make a comeback and other islands’ stocks can be protected. Chris Bird, a researcher with HIMB and an assistant professor at Texas A&M University — Corpus Christi (TAMUCC) and HIMB associate researcher Rob Toonen said size regulations meant to safeguard ‘opihi are failing in part because different varieties reach sexual maturity at very different sizes.

Read more about it in The Greenfield Daily Reporter and KPUA. Image courtesy of C. Bird.

Image of hadal snailfish

Mar 06: How deep can a fish go? Scientists may have answer

Oceanography associate professor Jeff Drazen is a co-author on a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) that may explain why fish are not found in the deepest parts of the ocean. Working with translucent hadal snailfish caught at a depth of 4.3 miles, researchers measured levels of a molecule, trimethylamine oxide, that helps protect proteins under pressure (and gives fish their distinctive odor). There appears to be a natural limit to the amount of it a fish can contain and, as a result, scientists say they’ve concluded that fish likely can't survive below about 5.1 miles. That would mean no fish at all live in the deepest one-quarter of the world’s oceans.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and SF Gate. AP Photo / University of Aberdeen.

Image of HI-SEAS habitat

Mar 04: Cooperation focus of upcoming simulated Mars mission

Unexpectedly high water found in 2012 in the Humu‘ula saddle region, between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on the island of Hawai‘i, has prompted a researcher to seek permission for a new site for additional tests. In a recent draft environmental assessment, Donald Thomas, Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) faculty member and director of UH Hilo’s Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes (CSAV), noted several reasons to conduct the additional research. “Recent decades have seen a substantial increase in the use and ‘occupancy’ of the higher elevation areas of both Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea…” which often depend on trucking in water.

Read more about it the West Hawaii Today. Image courtesy of West Hawaii Today.

Image of Martian blueberries

Mar 03: Martian “blueberries” really pieces of meteorites?

The famed “blueberry” rocks discovered on Mars by NASA’s Opportunity rover are not geological evidence of ancient water on the red planet, HIGP researchers Anupam Misra, Tayro Acosta-Maeda, Ed Scott, and Shiv Sharma now argue. Instead, they propose in a paper in Planetary and Space Science that the tiny spherules are actually remnants of small meteorites that broke up in Mars’ atmosphere. “None of the physical properties of the spherules match the concretion model,” says lead author Misra. “But the meteorite theory explains all of their properties.” The biggest issue with the concretion model is the narrow range of spherule size, he adds.

Read more about it in National Geographic and The Daily Mail. Image courtesy of NASA.

Image of shark with video recorder and sensors

Mar 02: “Shark’s eye” view: witnessing the life of a top predator

Instruments strapped onto and ingested by sharks are revealing novel insights into how one of the most feared and least understood ocean predators swims, eats, and lives. For the first time, researchers at the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) and the University of Tokyo outfitted sharks with sophisticated sensors and video recorders to measure and see where they are going, how they are getting there, and what they are doing once they reach their destinations.“What we are doing is really trying to fill out the detail of what their role is in the ocean,” said Carl Meyer, an assistant researcher at HIMB. “It has really drawn back the veil on what these animals do and answered some longstanding questions.”

Read more about it and watch the video at Time, National Geographic, KuanānāNature World News, The Daily Mail, UPI, and KITV4; read more about it in Honolulu Civil Beat. Image courtesy of M. Royer / UH.

COSEE-IE logo

Feb 28: “All Things Marine”

Monday 24 February 2014 • 5-6 pm

Listen to the archived podcast of Carlie Wiener, COSEE-IE (Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence) Program Manager, and her monthly series “All Things Marine” on Hawaii’s Tomorrow. The COSEE Island Earth program, in conjunction with HIMB, is pleased to present “Special Episode: 2014 Ocean Sciences Meeting.” This episode features: Dr. Tracy Wiegner, Associate Professor of Marine Science, University of Hawaii Hilo; Eric Tong, Graduate Student, Dept. of Oceanography, University of Hawaii; Dr. Kaipo Perez, Ocean and Recreation Specialist with the City and County of Honolulu; Mallory Watson, Scientist, COSEE Florida; Emily Gonzales, Communications Graduate Assistant, COSEE Island Earth; Dr. Richard Tankersly, Professor of Biological Sciences, Florida Institute of Technology, COSEE Florida; and Dr. Richard Feely, Senior Scientist, NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory & Affiliate Faculty School of Oceanography, University of Washington.

As always, visit the broadcast archive for podcasts of previous shows.

Image of Michele Nishiguchi and Phil Taylor

Feb 27: Candidates named for Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology director

Two finalists, Michele Nishiguchi (above left) and Phil Taylor (above right) have been identified for the position of director, Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB). Both are scheduled to participate in two-day visits that cover department discussions; meetings with senior administrators, faculty, staff, students and internal and external constituents; and a public presentation. Please visit the UH News page for details and schedules of events.

Image of Mauna Kea

Feb 20: Mauna Kea aquifers shallower than expected

Unexpectedly high water found in 2012 in the Humu‘ula saddle region, between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on the island of Hawai‘i, has prompted a researcher to seek permission for a new site for additional tests. In a recent draft environmental assessment, Donald Thomas, Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) faculty member and director of UH Hilo’s Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes (CSAV), noted several reasons to conduct the additional research. “Recent decades have seen a substantial increase in the use and ‘occupancy’ of the higher elevation areas of both Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea…” which often depend on trucking in water.

Read more about it the West Hawaii Today. Image courtesy of West Hawaii Today.

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Feb 19: “The Icy Poles of the Moon: The Most Valuable Real Estate In the Solar System”

Paul Lucey

Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP)

Tuesday 24 February • 7:30 pm
NASA Pacific Regional Planetary Data Center (PRPDC), POST 544, UH Mānoa

This FREE lecture is open to the public.

Image of Michael Cooney in lab

Feb 14: Renewable energy the focus of unique partnership

Researchers from the the Hawai’i Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) are working with Maui-based company Pacific Biodiesel to develop a way to make water from restaurant grease traps reusable. The collaboration is an example of a new type of partnership between local businesses and the state’s public university. “It is kind of a novel incubator way to bridge technology from the university into industry and vice versa,” said HNEI associate researcher Michael Cooney. The technology may end up having a global impact on the wastewater industry.

Read more about it and watch the video in the UH System News; read more about it in Biodiesel Magazine. Image courtesy of HNEI.

Image of drift model animation

Feb 13: IPRC model supports castaway fisherman’s journey

The International Pacific Research Center (IPRC) Ocean Drift Model developed by senior researcher Nikolai Maximenko and scientific computer programmer Jan Hafner that is used to track tsunami debris from Japan supports the improbable account of Jose Salvador Alvarenga, a Salvadoran fisherman, who says he survived more than a year adrift at sea before his boat washed ashore in the Marshall Islands. The 16 paths simulated in the model follow a remarkably narrow path over this long period of time toward and beyond Ebon Atoll, not more than about 120 miles apart. Click here or on the image to watch the animation in a new window.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (subscription required), the UH System News, and Australia Network News. Image courtesy of IPRC; click on it to watch the animation.

Terry Kerby and Pisces IV

Feb 12: Human-manned subs being phased out — at what cost…?

An article in the Honolulu Civil Beat profiles Terry Kerby, Hawai’i Undersea Research Laboratory (HURL) chief pilot and director of submarine operations, and reviews the extraordinary history of HURL’s submersible program. HURL expeditions have included the discovery of the historic World War II Japanese midget submarine, groundbreaking research on the new Hawaiian island that is growing east of the Big Island, and played a key role in breakthrough findings on monk seal habitats that have facilitated conservation efforts, to name but a few. But now, says John Wiltshire, the lab’s director, the program is in danger of shutting down.

Read more about it the Honolulu Civil Beat. Image courtesy of PF Bentley / Civil Beat; click on it to go to the full version.

Image of shark tagging

Feb 07: Researchers tag more tiger sharks to track online

Researchers from Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) completed the second phase of a project to observe the movements of tiger sharks caught and tagged around the island of Maui. The study, funded by the Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), is in response to a recent uptick in the number of shark attacks recorded around the Valley Isle. Lead scientists Carl Meyer and Kim Holland report that in early 2014 their team caught and released nine tiger sharks in waters off Maui. The near-real-time tracks of these sharks will be added to the eight tracks already on the Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System (PacIOOS) Hawai‘i Tiger Shark Tracking web page.

Read more about it in the UH Mānoa News, Kaunānā, and the Hawaii Reporter. Image courtesy of M. Royer / HIMB; click on it to see the full version.

Image of Opportunity rover tracks on Mars

Jan 30: Mars or bust: putting humans on the Red Planet

Some of the earliest science fiction imagined voyages to the Red Planet. We now have the space-faring technology, and getting humans to Mars actually seems within reach. There are, of course, many concerns about sending people to Mars, so in preparation researchers are conducting experiments at sites built to simulate these long-duration missions. Kim Binsted (ICSD, UHNAI, and G&G) is principle investigator of one of those programs: Hawai‘i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) on the bare rocky slopes Mauna Kea on the island of Hawai‘i. In a 1,000-sq-ft geodesic dome, six scientists live and work for months. And, simulating working conditions on Mars, the crew can only go outside in mock spacesuits.

Read more about it and listen to the podcast at KUHF. Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell University.

Image of shoreline erosion

Jan 29: Realigning highway on O‘ahu’s North Shore urged

With highway traffic and beach erosion as two growing North Shore problems, community activists headed to Laniakea Beach on Saturday, where State Senator Clayton Hee (D-District 23) announced two new bills he said he hopes will finally spur some meaningful action on those issues. Dolan Eversole, NOAA Sea Grant Coastal Storms Program Coordinator for the Pacific Islands Region, comments on the plan, which would task UH Sea Grant with creating a North Shore beach management plan. The plan would likely be similar to the Kailua Beach and Dune Management Plan developed in 2010 which outlines a suite of options for this area.

Read more about it and watch the video at KHON2, Hawaii News Now and KITV4; read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (subscription required). Image courtesy of KHON2.

Image of CTD deployment in Ke'ehi Lagoon, Honolulu.

Jan 29: “A Bittersweet Cruise”

Check out the new story “A Bittersweet Cruise” on the SOEST grad student blog; it was written by Donn Viviani (Dept of Oceanography) about bacteria and their sweet tooth after the molasses spill in Ke‘ehi Lagoon in Honolulu in September 2013.

Read more about it at Real Science at SOEST. Image courtesy of Fenina Buttler.

Image of sun and interplanetary dust

Jan 27: Space dust carries water and organic compounds

In a paper recently published in PNAS, researchers from the Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LLBL), and University of California – Berkeley report that interplanetary dust particles (IDPs) could deliver water and organics to the Earth and other terrestrial planets. “It is a thrilling possibility that this influx of dust has acted as a continuous rainfall of little reaction vessels containing both the water and organics needed for the eventual origin of life…,” said Hope Ishii, associate researcher at HIGP and co-author of the study with John P. Bradley and Jeffrey J. Gillis-Davis, both also of HIGP, and their colleagues.

Read more about it in UH Mānoa News, Kaunānā, Raising Islands, and the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (subscription required) New Scientist, Science Daily, Newspoint Africa, and R&Dmag. Also, listen to the interview (.mp3) with John Bradley on Hawai‘i Public Radio’s “The Conversation”. Image courtesy of John Bradley, UHM SOEST/ LLNL.

COSEE-IE logo

Jan 24: “All Things Marine”

Wednesday 29 January 2014 • 5-6 pm

Listen to the archived podcast of Carlie Wiener, COSEE-IE (Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence) Program Manager, and her monthly series “All Things Marine” on Hawaii’s Tomorrow. The COSEE Island Earth program, in conjunction with HIMB, is pleased to present “Research Through the Ages: The C-MORE Scholars Program and Cascadia Research.” This episode features Kimberly Thomas, co-manager of the CMORE Scholars Program, and participating students Paul Bump and Daren Martin. Dr. Robin Baird from Cascadia Research Collective will also be joining us. Topics include exciting research updates on Hawai‘i’s marine mammals focusing on the false killer whale, and student research completed through the C-MORE Scholars Program.

As always, visit the broadcast archive for podcasts of previous shows.

Shark image

Jan 21: Surge in shark attacks causes alarm in Hawai‘i

In 2013, there were 14 shark attacks in the waters around Hawai‘i, eight off the coast of Maui alone, including two fatalities. Although some speculate that there may be something to do with the recovery of the sea turtle population or the Japanese tsunami, there's no evidence to support those ideas. Carl Meyer, Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) assistant researcher, points out that one of the more reasonable explanations is simply the increase of people in the water. He notes that there are more kayak fisherman, kite surfers, and paddle boarders than a few decades ago, and a new study he’s leading will look at whether tiger sharks are more prevalent in areas of Maui where those sports are most popular.

Read more about it and watch a related video at the LA Times; read more about it The Wire and Hawaii Civil Beat. Track the movement of several tagged tiger sharks at PacIOOS’s Hawai‘i Tiger Shark Tracking site. Read about the increase in sales of “shark deterrent device” on Maui at AP.com, which includes comments by Meyer (added 01-27-14). Image courtesy of HIMB.

PRPDC image

Jan 23: “ATLAS: Asteroid Terrestrial Last-Alert System Saving the World from Asteroid Impacts

Larry Denneau

Institute for Astronomy (IfA)

Tuesday 28 January • 7:30 pm
NASA Pacific Regional Planetary Data Center (PRPDC), POST 544, UH Mānoa

This FREE lecture is open to the public. Download the flyer PDF for more information.

Image of coral collection

Jan 15: HNEI installs PV systems at public schools

As part of ongoing energy efficiency and solar research being conducted by the Hawai‘i Natural Energy Institute (HNEI), six solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays totaling 15 kW in capacity were recently installed in Hawai‘i. Three “net zero energy” (NZE) buildings created by California-based Project Frog Inc. are the most recent experimental platforms used for PV performance research being conducted by the Institute. HNEI director Richard Rocheleau said, “These installations are part of a larger HNEI research endeavor to evaluate and compare the performance of traditional and emerging PV materials and inverter technologies.”

Read more about it in the Pacific Business News, UH Mānoa News, and Kaunānā. Image courtesy of HNEI / SOEST.

Image of Palmyra atoll

Jan 15: Palmyra atoll trove of research vital to Hawai‘i’s future

Conservationists say it‘s time that Palmyra atoll, a national marine monument, becomes better known for its current role as a living laboratory that can unlock some of the environmental mysteries keeping scientists up at night. The science being done on the atoll, they say, holds valuable lessons for Hawai‘i, especially when it comes to understanding sharks, preserving coral reefs, and combating invasive species. Nature Conservancy science specialist Kydd Pollock noted that Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) assistant researcher Greta Aeby’s innovative work at the atoll into stopping the spread of coral disease ultimately could be used in Hawai‘i to stop outbreaks in Kāne‘ohe Bay and areas off Kaua‘i and Maui.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (subscription required). Image courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and The Nature Conservancy.

Graphic of sea level rise

Jan 13: Experts urge lawmakers to address climate change

As they appealed to lawmakers to take action now to protect the state’s irreplaceable resources, experts painted a sobering picture of Hawai‘i’s future in the face of projected climate change, using models depicting Waikīkī and Honolulu slipping under water. “We might expect and plan for one foot of sea level rise by the year 2050 and one meter or three feet of sea level rise by the year 2100,” explained Dolan Eversole of the UH Sea Grant College Program. While there’s little we can do to mitigate climate change without major reductions to greenhouse gas emissions, it’s not too late to adapt to the expected impacts by designing and building our communities to be safer, urge scientists.

Read more about it and watch the video at Hawaii News Now. Image courtesy of NOAA; click on it to see the full version.

Image of coral collection

Jan 08: HURL enables discovery of long-term ecosystem shift

The Hawai‘i Undersea Research Laboratory (HURL) has enabled scientists to determine that a long-term shift in nitrogen content in the Pacific Ocean has occurred as a result of climate change. Researchers from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and the University of California – Santa Cruz (UCSC) analyzed deep-sea corals gathered near the Hawaiian Islands using the HURL Pisces V, submersible. They observed overall nitrogen fixation in the North Pacific Ocean has increased by about 20 percent since the mid 1800s and this long-term change appears to be continuing today, according to a study published recently in the journal, Nature.

Read more about it in the UH Mānoa News, Kaunānā, and Raising Islands, and Asian American Press. Image, which was used on the cover of Nature, courtesy of M. Cremer / HURL.

Image of house on eroding shore

Jan 08: Fast-moving erosion threatens Hawai‘i coastal homes

The large Christmas 2013 swell damaged at least five oceanfront properties on the North Shore of O‘ahu, rekindling the debate about how state officials and homeowners should best respond to beach erosion and the rising waters of the Pacific Ocean. Some property owners want to be able to install a seawall, or something similar, to protect their property. Coastal geologist Charles “Chip” Fletcher, professor of G&G and SOEST’s Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, said building seawalls always comes to mind wherever severe erosion occurs, but that studies show seawalls built on chronically eroding shorelines like Sunset Beach will only lead to more erosion down the coast.

Read more about it in the CBS News. Image courtesy AP.

Photo of Terry Kerby

Jan 08: Under the surface with HURL

Not too many people know their office equipment as well as Terry Kerby knows his. He spends five months every year taking his apart and then putting it back together, piece by piece. Then again, not too many people rely on their gear to survive at more than 6,000 feet below the ocean's surface. Kerby is chief pilot at the Hawai‘i Undersea Research Laboratory (HURL), commanding its two submersible vehicles, the Pisces IV and the Pisces V, to explore the depths of the ocean. It's a position that gives him “a big rush, like it's the first time,” every time he dives, yet the danger involved is enough to generate chills as well.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (subscription required). Image courtesy of Craig T. Kojima / ckojima@staradvertiser.com.

Image of wood debris

Jan 08: Heavier debris finds isle shores

Since September, there's been a “dramatic” turn in the tsunami debris washing ashore in the Aloha State, scientists say. International Pacific Research Center (IPRC) researchers monitoring that debris say objects such as boats, buoys, and lighter materials are being replaced with a steady stream of heavier wooden beams and planks. The wood appears to be lumber that was used for homes, buildings, and telephone poles. “So far, we have opinions that yes, these objects are from Japan,” said IPRC senior researcher Nikolai Maximenko.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (subscription required). Image courtesy of G. Speidel / IPRC.

Image of rooftops w/ PV panels

Jan 07: Batteries put to test in photovoltaic plan

Hawaiian Electric Co. (HECO) and the Hawai‘i Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) are launching a project in a West O‘ahu neighborhood to see whether battery technology can be effectively used to open the utility’s grid to greater amounts of solar power produced by rooftop photovoltaic panels. The project, in a neighborhood with one of the island’s highest concentrations of PV panels, is among three ventures being undertaken by HECO and HNEI statewide, investigating how battery technology can be used to overcome limits on the amount of intermittent renewable energy the state’s electric utilities can accept.

Read more about it in Kaunānā and the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (subscription required). Image courtesy of Alan Yonan / ayonan@staradvertiser.com.

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